The harm over-medication can do to elders with dementia

Nursing home negligence and abuse is a widespread problem in California and across the United States. Nursing home negligence and abuse can take many tragic forms. These include overmedicating nursing home residents with dementia.

Rate of nursing home overmedication of residents with dementia

In considering nursing home injuries/abuse, the over-medication rate among residents with dementia in these facilities is startling. During an average week, nearly 180,000 residents of nursing homes are administered antipsychotic drugs for diagnoses for which these medications are not approved. The alarming reality is that these antipsychotic medications are administered to residents without informed, free consent.

There is a common theme among the patients that are administered antipsychotic drugs in this manner. These residents nearly always are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.

Reasons for over-medicating nursing home residents with unapproved antipsychotic drugs

The US General Accountability Office has analyzed why this overuse of antipsychotic medications on nursing residents with dementia occurs. The agency specifically concluded that these drugs are used as a means of controlling a patient’s dementia symptoms by “numbing” them. This strategy renders the residents easier to “control” in a nursing home setting.

FDA and the use of antipsychotic medications on nursing home residents with dementia

The US Food and Drug Administration, FDA, has not approved antipsychotic drugs for use in this manner. In fact, the FDA consistently has warned and advised against using antipsychotic medications on patients with symptoms of dementia. Studies have revealed that antipsychotic drugs double the risk of death in older patients suffering from dementia.

A nursing home resident subjected to improper administration of antipsychotic drugs has important legal rights. Typically, a family member or friend needs to assist a nursing home resident in accessing resources to protect those vital legal interests. Those persons are often the voice of the elderly and disabled and a crucial part of helping protect them from harm.